It’s been over 30 years since the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. With the passage of time, groups and individuals have started looking at how they might help to reclaim that land. The Chernobyl Spirit Company has landed on a plan to help boost the economy of these areas while also helping to support the wildlife by distilling a high quality artisan vodka—appropriately named ATOMIK Vodka—from those abandoned lands.
The first question, of course, is whether it’s safe to use grains from this area. At the time of the nuclear disaster, experts said that it would be 24,000 years before the land would be safe to use again. The Chernobyl Spirit Company’s group of Ukrainian and UK scientists have been studying the transfer of radioactivity to crops in these areas, and they’ve discovered that many of these areas are now safe for use. Additionally, the process of distillation leaves behind many heavier elements in the waste. It’s these heavier elements that carry the radioactivity, which means that through distillation the alcohol is actually more radioactively “pure” than the grain itself.
What might be the biggest challenge for the company, however, is that they are trying to distill ATOMIK in their spare time. Currently, they’ve only got one experimental bottle of ATOMIK and don’t have any to sell at this point. Still, it’s a noble effort that will hopefully take off, especially since they plan on investing at least 75 percent of their profits into the communities of the area as well as to wildlife conservation. Jim Smith, a professor at the University of Portsmouth and one of the experts involved in the project, recently told theguardian.com, “I think this is the most important bottle of spirits in the world, because it could help the economic recovery of communities living in and around abandoned areas.” Even with that vision, though, it will be an uphill battle to get people to trust that the vodka is safe. Support is slowly building, however. One Russian official who has tried ATOMIK, Oleg Nasvit, stated, “I like it,” and then compared it to “high quality moonshine.” There’s been no word on whether Mr. Nasvit glows at night after offering this glowing praise.